Vice President’s Staff Meeting Minutes
January 12, 2012
Dr. Hicks, Dr. Lemons, Dr. Laub, Dr. Mickles, Judy Graves, Will Sandidge, Dr. Fronheiser, Walter Krug, Susan Beasley, Linda Rodriguez, Linda Adams, Lucy Carter Smith, Mike Danos, Tom Sparhawk and Mike Fein
Dr. Hicks went first. He said that when he was at the SACS conference he talked to one of the vendors, Smarthinking, Inc. They are an outsource tutoring service that many VCCS colleges use to either supplement or replace their tutoring. He introduced Dr. Ed Neelley from Smarthinking, Inc. Dr. Neelley said that Smarthinking is online, on-demand professional tutoring for students, improving student achievement, degree completion and retention. He said that they have been in business for thirteen years and there are currently ten VCCS schools using their services. He said that they provide various avenues of support such as supplementary (addressing subjects with difficult-to-find tutors and gaps in time coverage), primary, online, remote site, and complete learning solutions. The subjects that they offer tutoring in are Writing, Mathematics, Science, Business, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Spanish, Nursing and Allied Health, Computers and Technology, Reading Comprehension, and Math for the Liberal Arts. Smarthinking offers web access 24x7. Dr. Neelley said that the average wait time for a student to connect with a tutor is thirty seconds. Students can also schedule sessions at times that would best suit them. He said that Smarthinking is available anywhere, students just need a computer, internet connection and browser. Students can submit a question and Smarthinking will return an answer to them within twenty-four hours, with the average being only eight hours. In addition, students can submit an essay and the turnaround time is within twenty-four hours with the average being eight hours. Regarding the Smarthinking tutors, Dr. Neelley said that 80-85% are college/university faculty, with the rest being graduate students, retired educators, and stay-at-home parents. Smarthinking has over 1500 tutors and over 90% of them have graduate or doctorate degrees.
The average educational experience is nine years. Dr. Neelley said that they did a study at Broward College in Florida and it showed 8-22% improvement in students using Smarthinking versus all other students. He said that the service is free to students and the cost to the college is based on student usage. There is an initial set-up fee of $3,000 which includes workshops, customization, full day with implementation manager, promotions care package, and the first year of support. Dr. Neelley showed a demonstration of the product. He noted that students have the ability to print out the sessions. Dr. Hicks asked about turnaround time during final exam weeks. Dr. Neelley said that the average wait time during final exams is three minutes. He said that someone is always monitoring the wait time and more tutors can be added when necessary. Dr. Hicks asked if they use plagiarism-finding software. He said no, they do not. Someone asked about privacy issues and how many people would have access to what goes on in the sessions. Dr. Neelley said that there is one administrator account per institution and that person can see everything that goes on. Dr. Fronheiser asked if there are other schools using this for QEP or SACS accreditation purposes. He said that yes, there are. Dr. Fronheiser asked if there is a way to limit it to certain subjects or areas. Dr. Neelley said yes, it can be customized to the subjects you want. He said registration can also be restricted to certain students. There were no further questions for Dr. Neelley regarding Smarthinking, Inc.
Next, Dr. Fronheiser went with his agenda items. He said that the next milestone due date preparing the response to SACS is January 28th. He said that the data is in and should be finalized. They are on course and on time.
Regarding the nomination for reaffirmation committees, Dr. Fronheiser said that he would like for each academic dean to bring one person from each division for each committee. He wants the deans to bring a few names to next week’s meeting and everyone can vote.
Dr. Fronheiser tabled his third agenda item, Course Evaluation Software, until next week’s meeting.
Dr. Hicks closed the meeting.